Sunday, September 10, 2017

Slowly Building Up

After yesterday's ride I was really hoping today for just a tad bit of improvement. Not asking for leaps and bounds of difference, but to not feel like my horse was made out of stiff metal would be nice.

I got to the barn pretty early and it was nice and chilly out. Thank goodness fall is coming, because gah summer was gross this year. I quickly tacked up Casey and we got straight to work.
Fall weather in OR = all the grey clouds
After our mandatory ten minutes warm-up walk, we did five minutes of trotting on a loose rein. My goal was to try to get Casey to relax more in her body to help overcome the stiffness later. She was pretty quiet, but it wasn't hard to keep her going either. She seemed just content to plod around the arena at a trot without any input from me. She did seem less stiff right off the bat, and the tightness in her body dissipated throughout our ride.
Trotting on the buckle
After the loose trot, we followed up with a five minute trot session where we worked on a bit of collection, bending, and trying to power from behind. She still felt heavy on the forehand, but much less so than the day before. My usual strategies to get her to power from her butt just weren't working so well. By the end of the ride it had gotten better, but still wasn't great. The video and photos from the ride actually really surprised me because it doesn't look nearly as bad as it felt.
A little bit of trot bending
Once that trot session was over, I decided that we should canter for a bit. My hope was that maybe the canter would wake her up and encourage her to move with more impulsion. We cantered two laps each direction of the arena. She was easily able to get her right-lead canter (it's always her easier lead) and seemed to struggle less than yesterday at cantering for an extended amount of time. We were both dying by the end of the second lap though.
The right-lead canter
The left-lead canter came more easily than yesterday, but it still wasn't great. She actually ended up getting the right-lead canter, but realized before finishing even the first stride that she wasn't on the right one and so did a flying-lead change on that first stride. Casey was super impressed with herself for that and a lot of fancy tail swishing ensued.
The sassy flying-lead change
The left-lead canter
The canter did seem to wake Casey up a bit, but we still didn't have the power that I wanted. We trotted for five more minutes with me continuing to try to get her to drive herself forward with her butt instead of dragging herself on her front legs. It didn't really work. There was improvement, but it was pretty scanty. Then we finished off with four more laps of canter.
More cantering
By the end of the ride I could tell that my body was tired because I started to feel like I was flopping a whole bunch in the canter. I could also tell Casey's body was tired because her canter just keep getting flatter... and flatter... and flatter... Even so, I was impressed that we were able to actually canter for a full five minutes (overall) today, because that definitely didn't happen the day before.
Expect lots of cantering photos because I was canter-deprived for five months!
Even though she was still a bit stiff and definitely heavy on the front end, Casey was actually being really well behaved for the entire ride. At one point her least favorite dog came over to the arena edge and she thought about throwing a temper tantrum about it, but ultimately decided to behave herself. I've been so impressed with her brain lately. I can tell that she really wants to please and tries actively to be good. So much better than the beginning of summer when she tried to murder me on a regular basis!
Such a good girlie
Anybody out there have any good exercises to help horses get off the forehand? I know of a few, but I'd love to pick other people's brains about it!

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